Friday, October 06, 2006

Maybe I went too far

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I last posted. I’ve been working pretty hard at my operations; however, a recent incident has made it much more dangerous of late. Indeed because of a minor miscalculation on my part, I have been not been able to conduct many missions. This is, to say the least, a bit of a crimp in my style

In my most recent operation, I think I might have gone too far. Like most operations, this one started out well but then I let things get a little out of hand. Once they were out of hand, though, there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Let me back up a little and start from the beginning.

I have been working on two fronts lately in my war on the counters. First, I have been training Hamish in particular for covert operations, including spying and reconnaissance missions, and I have been working on improving my own skills. Things were going swimmingly until the “incident” and I have four missions to report on.

Mission one: The egg carton

As most of you know, in addition to training my little brother Hamish in covert missions, I’ve also been training Rafe for some the easier operations -- things that are really not much challenge for me anymore but that still need to be done. The egg carton mission was one such operation. The people had left an empty cardboard egg carton in a relatively accessible place, requiring a minimum of counter effort. So, I called Rafe to me and asked him to watch. I demonstrated the careful counter technique, involving a solid stand on the hind leg and a hook (it helps if you have a claw like Meeshka) with a front leg. Once you’ve snared the object and have not been discovered by the people, you can take the object to one of your lairs and do with it what you will. I took the carton to my crate; however, as I was showing Rafe how to dissect something like an egg carton, one of the people (the nosier one) happened upon us. I ran away quickly, though I knew that the telltale evidence lay in my crate. Rafe acquitted himself rather well, acting as if he had no idea what had happened. There he is, looking at the egg carton as if he'd never seen it before and certainly wouldn't touch it himself.

Mission two: The apple

When the toddler and her mommy were visiting us, the people all went “apple picking” and came home with two big bags of apples which they left, astonishingly enough, in the middle of the living room for several days. Apples are normally the purview of my buddy Renzo, so I left them alone for almost three days. Inexplicably, Renzo wasn’t interested in the apples. (He is having his own battles with the people who have started using a water gun on him when he does things they don’t like, so he may have been trying to convince them that he’s turned over a new leaf.) In any case, since they were right there for several days, I thought they presented a good covert mission. So, I called Hamish and told him to watch me. I delicately took an apple from the bag and then whisked it away to the people’s bed, where I took a few tiny bites. Then I called him to the bed to have a turn. But, suddenly I noticed that the people were coming to the bedroom. I quickly jumped off the bed and ran away. Hamish stayed on the bed; but his excellent training allowed him to look very innocent. The people called him off the bed without ever seeing the apple. Once they found it (several minutes later), they couldn’t be sure if Hamish had been the one to steal it since they hadn’t seen him actually eating it. AND, they suspected me in any event with a mission like this one—however, they hadn’t seen me anywhere near the apple. So, the second mission was also a success.

Mission three: The candy bar (uh, I mean “protein” bar)

One of the skills I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks has been opening the closet doors. My people have sliding doors on all the closets and I discovered, by accident really (though I’m not sure there are any real accidents as I’m a firm believer in fate), that I could open the doors using a combination of nose and paw pushing. I’d been perfecting my abilities for several days but the people kept hearing me at work and calling me off. Which helped me to realize that if I was going to get at the items in the closet (like the coats that have the pockets that hold the treats), I’d have to wait until the people weren’t around. This kind of mission can always be dangerous because it can lead to the people deciding that you can’t be trusted alone in the house and so I try to reserve attempting such missions for seriously promising loot. Well, it happened. The people were doing the morning walks (mine turn was over) and I made my move. For which I was heavily rewarded with an entire candy bar, called a “Tiger Milk” bar. It’s called a protein bar on the wrapper, but it was pretty much like any other candy bar I’d ever seen—though it was the first I actually got a chance to taste. It was good. I extracted it from one of the coat pockets and quickly (though delicately) removed it from the wrapper and ate it up. The people kind of laughed and said, “Well, at least it’s carob-coated rather than chocolate.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I know the people are really maniacal about not letting us have chocolate ever since Renzo took on the mission of eating a bag of Hershey’s kisses (that were hidden in a cabinet) and ended up at the vet’s for two days. From this mission I learned two things: 1) There are no limits to my access to things behind closed doors or in other difficult to reach places and 2) The people didn’t crate me for my new-found skill. Unfortunately, these two lessons have led to my downfall because I got overconfident.

Mission four: The ill-fated mission

The last mission I’ve had was the one that seems to have ended it all for me—at least for the time being. The people had left a frying pan on the stove-top without washing it and then left for work. They actually do this every day and so it wasn’t that unusual. I’d been eyeing this pan for some time, trying to figure out how to get it and with my confidence at an all-time high, I decided to just give it a try. Pulling it to the edge of the stove was not nearly as difficult as I had imagined and it was in my grasp within seconds. As I was licking off the lovely food particles (vegetarian sausage and sausage-flavored oil residue), my front paw slipped on the burner knob and it turned on. I looked at it quizzically as it started to get hotter and hotter. I knew this was bad, but I didn’t know what to do—stoves being a new type of “counter” for me, I didn’t really understand how they work. So, I decided the best course of action would be to take a nap and maybe it would all go away. The next thing I knew, my person had walked in the door with a quizzical look on her face. She noticed the smoke and strange smell right away and hurried to the kitchen. There, she found the frying pan on the red-hot burner. The pan was smoking and had turned an eerie shade of white (as you can see in the picture). I could tell she was really upset and so I tried to give her kisses, but she was too busy piecing together what had happened.

Ever since then, the people have been crating me when they aren’t home. I’m not sure what I’m going to do and may have to deploy the youngsters, Hamish and Rafe, well before they are ready.

Friends in the dog blog world, do you have any advice?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Hello friends, it's me, reporting back after the toddler-week-end. I have to say that it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. One really nice thing was that the toddler seemed to understand that sometimes you have to go into your crate. My people had gotten one for her to sleep in next to her mommy, but up in the living room, all that was there was the crate that Rafe and Hamish use. But, the toddler understood things and frequently climbed in the crate all on her own. Unlike Rafe and Hamish, she didn't need a cookie-bribe. After reading's Turbo's suggestion that a toddler might be a lot like a cobbler, I was very hopeful. And then when Max and the Army of four mentioned the possibility of dropped food, I was positively anxious to get her here.

But, listen to this. We dogs almost never got to interact with the toddler. From what I could tell, though, she wasn't like a cobbler at all (where'd you get your info, Turbo?). Instead, when she was upstairs, we were either outside or in our crates (with Kongs or bones, so I can't really complain too much--plus, all in all, I like my crate quite a bit--it's just that I like to be the one to choose to go in it). When the toddler was in her sleeping crate, we got to run around. That suited me just fine because it meant that I got to give lots and lots of kisses to the toddler's mommy--who looks like a tall, thin version of one of my people, so I think they might be sisters.

The toddler's mommy doesn't really like face kisses for some reason and she spent a lot of time trying to convince me to sit nicely. But, the more someone doesn't like kisses from me, the more anxious I am to give them. See, I figure that they just haven't realized what a treat, a gift really, a good kiss from me is. Now, I understand that you might not want a kiss from my goofy brother Hamish because if truth be told, he's pretty sloppy about his kisses.

Mine however are like little raindrops or a delicate dusting of snow. Always expertly placed--for instance on the lens of a pair of glasses or just between a pair of human lips. I once actually removed a human's contact lens while delivering a well-aimed kiss. Sometimes, when a face is not available, I give ankle or wrist kisses. Anything to show what a well-mannered pup I am (don't even ask about Rafe's kisses--I haven't tried to tackle that one yet and don't know when I will). But the toddler's mommy didn't like it no matter what I did. I also heard the toddler's mommy talking to the toddler's daddy on the phone and saying things like "no, the dogs aren't licking her" and "you don't have to worry, everything's pretty clean". I understand that the toddler's daddy is more the kind of person who likes to enjoy animals from afar. I'm sure a kiss from me would change his mind.

In any case, I got to go on a couple walks with the toddler in her stroller. My person helped her give me cookies and that was pretty good, if a little weird (I mean, one cookie from two hands??). When I tried to kiss her face in thanks, as a pup of my breeding and upbringing would naturally try to do, she SCREAMED and kind of grunted--she did this to all the pups who got cookies from her when we tried to say thanks. The good news was that she screamed less and less as the week-end went on. A couple times on our walk, she got out of her stroller to walk around. Boy, was that scary. I definitely kept my distance then. I understand now why they call them "toddlers". I really thought she might just toddle right over me and lay me flat.

In the end, there was some dropped food that we got to take care of--a couple pieces of dried fruit, some egg on the floor, a bit of bread, so at least we didn't starve. Overall, she was a pretty sweet little human girl, and she and her mommy made my humans very happy, so that's always good. My humans were kind of sad after the toddler and her mommy had gone back home (they had to fly far on a plane), but all us pups worked hard to make them feel better by giving lots of kisses and wagging tails. Things seem kind of back to normal now. My person even has apple muffins cooling on the counter, so I better go see what kind of challenge they pose.....